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Coachella 2013: Jessie Ware and Tanlines boost the beat

INDIO -- The frenzied festival atmosphere at Coachella -- where every musical act is always in competition with several others for showgoers' attention -- can lead to a bulking-up effect among artists otherwise inclined toward delicacy and refinement.

Late Sunday afternoon, you could see it in sets by the English soul singer Jessie Ware (in the Mojave Tent) and the New York electro duo Tanlines (in the Gobi Tent). On record, each savors the infinite possibilities of the studio, detailing every groove with headphone-ready precision. Here, though, they sacrificed a measure of nuance in favor of big beats legible even to passersby out on the polo field.

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In neither case was that a disappointment, particularly with Ware, whose singing stood up to her three-piece band's muscular arrangements of tunes from her excellent debut, "Devotion." In "Imagine It Was Us," she coasted sensually over a juicy slap-bass line, while "No to Love" had a deeply funky swing, pretty but with real bottom end.

Tanlines boosted the bass as well in songs that feel slinkier and more mannered on the group's 2012 disc "Mixed Emotions." And it inspired some synchronized full-crowd arm-waving in "Cactus." But percussionist and synthmaster Jesse Cohen also adjusted to the environment with the kind of stage banter that can keep an audience engaged.

At the beginning of his set, he quoted Cheap Trick frontman Robin Zander's famous line from "At Budokan" -- "This next one is the first song on our new album" -- and later poked a bit of fun at the excess of Coachella itself: "It's always been my dream to play at the exact same time as Social Distortion," he deadpanned. "And today that dream has been realized."

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Follow Mikael Wood on Twitter: @mikaelwood

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